You probably heard that the Powerball jackpot recently reached an estimated $550 million dollars. Yes, a few different people actually won over half a billion dollars in a lottery game. Crazy, huh? I hate to admit this, but yes, I did buy a ticket. In fact, I bought 5 of them. I got sucked in, dreaming that the money could potentially be mine.
The silly thing is, I rarely play unless the jackpot starts to become huge. I don’t have a particular number that I start playing at, but I will usually buy a ticket if I notice that the jackpot is over $150 million. So, why does $550 million prompt me to waste my hard-earned money when the introductory $20 million jackpot does not? My odds are of winning are exactly the same. For some reason, I’m willing to spend $10 to win $550 million, but I’m not willing to spend that same $10 for a measly $20 million. Why is that? I got me to start thinking about what somebody could even do with all of that money. How much money is really enough, anyway?
Using our Time to Make Money
It is my belief that time is the most valuable commodity that we have, so why is it that we are so willing to trade it away for other things like money? In his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki examines this question in great detail. Kiyosaki contends that our bosses pay us for our time in order to make money for themselves. However, most employees do not realize how valuable their time is. The value money more than time. Therefore, they give it away without much thought in order to make money for themselves.
For those of us who are employees, the more we work, the more money we make. So, the more time we commit to our jobs, the more we are compensated for that time. Yet, we should ask ourselves why we are working so hard in the first place. What are we working towards? Usually, we are working in order to support ourselves and our families needs. To take it one step further, many of us are working toward a comfortable retirement so that we have the income protection to stop working when we are ready. Thus, we are working harder now in order to have more time on our hands later.
However, often times, we get distracted and focus too much on the future. We forget to live in the now. We focus more on the sheer desire to make money, rather than on what that money can do for us. If we were stop and look around, we may realize that we already have the things that we are working so hard to get.
The Parable of the Mexican Fisherman and the Business Man
Many of you may already know the parable of the Mexican fisherman and the Harvard MBA. For those of you who don’t, here it is:
An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.
“How long it took you to catch them?” The American asked.
“Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.
“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs.” The Mexican said.
“But,” The American then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”
“Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”
“But what then, senor?”
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”
“Millions, senor? Then what?”
The American said slowly, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”
– Author Unknown
In our pursuit to increase our wealth, or even to become debt free, sometimes we lose sight of what really matters to us. We forget why we are working so hard in the first place. What we really want may already be within our grasp…if we would only stop to remember what it really is that we are working towards in the first place. How much is enough? Each of us must decide that on our own, trying to remember it isn’t just about the numbers. How much are you willing to give up to get to where you want to be? Chances are, it may already be within your grasp.